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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Digesting the Michigan Primary

There were two main winners: Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. The two big losers were momentum and Hillary Clinton.

With the Michigan primary we now have three winners in three primaries on the Republican side. Mitt Romney took home this primary and rather decisively. The whole week was dedicated to the so called momentum of John McCain. He was suddenly leading in the national polls, Florida, and South Carolina. He was leading in just about every poll except for the only poll that mattered, the voting in Michigan. With Romney winning in Michigan, Rudy's rope a dope strategy looks more and more ingenius. It appears after analyzing the results of the first three states, that momentum is meaningless. Huckabee supposedly had momentum after Iowa and it lead to a fourth place 12% finish in NH. McCain supposedly had momentum after winning NH and it lead to a ten point loss in Michigan.

Now, it appears to be Romney's turn as the so called front runner. As Sean Hannity pointed out, this is two gold and two silvers in the first four states. (Wyoming voted however it wasn't taken too seriously for whatever reason) He now leads in the delegate count and he will supposedly enjoy the so called momentum into South Carolina.

The best analysis of Romney's victory went something like this. McCain made a statement that inferred that it was likely that many of Michigan's lost jobs will be lost forever. Romney pounced on it and countered with his own plan that called on all sorts of government spending to bring jobs back. The voters apparently liked Romney's plan better than McCain's straight talk.

If this is the case, it goes to show again that the dynamic in one state won't transfer to the next. Huckabee consolidated most of the Christian Conservatives, who were plentiful, in Iowa and rode them to victory. That couldn't be replicated in NH because the voting bloc is totally different. In Michigan, the state's own economic malaise, which apparently is large, was the main topic.

None of this means anything going into South Carolina. Fred Thompson is apparently riding on his last solid debate performance. Huckabee has already put a line in the sand and is staking out that state. McCain was leading however that was before the Michigan primary. I don't know how Romney's message will resonate.

Rudy is lying low watching this go on, while he practices good old fashioned retail politics in Florida. He continues to have dozens of campaign events per week. His organization is strongest, and I saw several of his commercials from my home Chicago during the Michigan primary coverage. It appears more and more as though the other candidates will battle it out for meaningless delegates while no one gets any momentum and Rudy will be waiting for everyone in Florida.

On the Democratic front, it is apparently a long and complicated story why Hillary nearly lost to none of the above. That said, the whole story, sad to say, doesn't matter. Because Michigan and the DNC couldn't come together, their delegates are not being counted in the convention. Everyone else, short of Kucinich, boycotted the primary entirely. Her victory would only have helped momentum and nearly being beaten by "uncommitted" won't help that. That said, this race will have most of its story written in Florida and super Tuesday. This result will likely have little effect either way.

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